new_health (2006-12)

Balancing Act

A therapeutic massage that works spine and mind

by Wendy C. Smith

I tried an interesting therapeutic modality last week called CranioSacral Therapy. I had heard the term, but was unfamiliar with actual practice until this session. It’s rather hard to explain, so I’ll start with a little background information.

CranioSacral Therapy originated around 1970 through the work of Dr. William Sutherland and Dr. John Upledger. Dr. Sutherland had been working on cranial osteopathy and movement of the bones of the skull. Dr. Upledger had witnessed rhythmic movement of the craniosacral system during a spinal surgery and later went on to take a course from Dr. Sutherland.

Through his observations, Dr. Sutherland’s work and his own research, Dr. Upledger put together a theory that some sort of hydraulic system was at work within the craniosacral system and that restrictions within this system could cause illness. At the same time, he proposed that disease and ailments could be detected by irregularities in the same system.

Problems that can arise from such blockages include pain, eye difficulties, motor-coordination, scoliosis and others. CST is also used to remedy a number of ailments such as chronic neck and back pain, migraines, chronic fatigue, traumatic brain and spinal chord injuries, infantile disorders, emotional difficulties and post-traumatic stress syndrome to name a few. The idea is to identify the restricted points and clear them so that the body’s natural healing processes take over.    

I went to see massage therapist Gina Baker for a craniosacral session. She’s a recent transplant from the wilds of Kentucky who has been practicing massage for eight years and Craniosacral Therapy for five. She became interested in that modality when a friend trained in CST treated another friend who had become a paraplegic and been told he would never walk again. Eventually, the man was able to walk and drive. Gina attributes a lot of his healing to CST.

CranioSacral Therapy is a completely non-invasive treatment. It is performed while the client is fully dressed and involves a hands-on approach with very little pressure. Because I didn’t have any particular physical problems, Gina decided to “balance” me during our session. I lay down on my back on her table. She put one hand under my tailbone and one hand on my stomach above that hand. Then we concentrated on finding the rhythm.

I started feeling a fluid-like movement up my back from her hand to about halfway up my back. The best way to describe it is that it was like a current. It flowed gently toward my head and then flowed back toward the base of my spine and continued to slowly move back and forth. Gina said, “go left” and the current moved to the left side of my spine. Then she said “go right” and it moved to the right side of my spine. It was very interesting. She moved both her hands up my body about eight inches and brought the current up a little.

I didn’t feel it as strongly as I did at the base of my spine, but I did feel a small internal rocking motion which was very soothing. She finished with a little pressure manipulation on my skull that almost put me to sleep. By the end of the session, I was completely relaxed and incredibly clear-headed and motivated.

Most of Gina’s clients have either chronic fatigue or chronic pain or both, although CST can be used to treat a lot of other problems. A part of CST that we did not explore is SomotoEmotional Release®, which is the idea of releasing the emotional residue of a physical trauma. The residue occurs when the body retains pain or trauma at an injury site long after the injury has healed. Holding onto the trauma eventually leads to more symptoms or dysfunctions, and often they appear in other areas of the body. SomotoEmotional Release is used to “let go” of this trauma and again, let the body heal itself.

Gina is currently working on a treatment program she has termed “Six Sessions To Succession.” She has found that six seems to be the magic number for people to really feel the effects of most therapeutic modalities. She has created a program that involves six therapy sessions individualized for the person and the person’s situation meaning that the type of therapy given during each session will vary for each person.

I thought the CST session was intriguing, and I was very surprised at how clear my thinking was afterward and how much I accomplished that afternoon. Gina says CST is a very effective way to balance body, mind and spirit. We can all use that. Gina Baker can be reached at 584-3864.